NBA Draft Rumors: Who Does Chad Ford Have Climbing Up Draft Boards?

Michael PleshaCorrespondent IIIJune 20, 2011

NBA Draft Rumors: Who Does Chad Ford Have Climbing Up Draft Boards?

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 24:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young Cougars drives past Kenny Boynton #1 of the Florida Gators during the Southeast regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 24, 2011 in New Orlea
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The 2011 NBA Draft is right around the corner and NBA teams are conducting their final evaluations of the players in the draft class.  The lead up to the NBA Draft is always stressful for the athletes waiting to be selected but exciting at the same time.

    From the end of the college basketball season a lot has changed, with some players gaining popularity, while others watched their stock plummet.  Here are five players who ESPN's NBA Draft guru Chad Ford believes are on the rise as the draft quickly approaches.

5. Darius Morris, PG, Michigan

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Darius Morris #4 of the Michigan Wolverines moves the ball while taking on the Duke Blue Devils during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Since he first declared for the draft, Darius Morris has seen his stock jump all over the place.  The 2011 NBA Draft is full of talented point guards but Morris offers something a little bit different.  

    At 6’5” Morris towers over most of the other point guards, which he uses to his advantage when running his team’s offense.  Morris has extremely good court vision and is a terrific defender.

    NBA teams have been very impressed with Morris during his individual workouts, and many teams value his ability to defend both guard positions. Now a player who at one point might not have been drafted at all is likely to be taken in the late first round.

4. Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence

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    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 5:  Marshon Brooks #2 of the Providence Friars takes a jump shot over Chris Wright #4 of the Georgetown Hoays during a college basketball game on February 5, 2011 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  The Hoyas won 83-81.  (P
    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    At Providence Marshon Brooks did everything on offense for his team.  Brooks would be a welcomed addition to any playoff team looking for some more fire power off the bench. 

    However, now it looks like Brooks might not make it out of the lottery.  He has surprised many teams with his ability to do other things well, besides score the basketball. 

    At 22, Brooks doesn’t quite have the upside of some of the younger guys in the draft. But for teams looking to make a run in the 2011 season, Brooks is a great option because he can help you win now.

3. Nikola Vucevic, C, USC

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    DAYTON, OH - MARCH 16: Nikola Vucevic #5 of the USC Trojans handles the ball against D.J. Haley #33 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the first round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at UD Arena on March 16, 2011 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Phot
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The 2011 draft is lacking in terms of big men that actually play like big men. But Nikola Vucevic is one of the exceptions.  At 7’0” and 260 pounds, Vucevic comes into the NBA with a grown man’s body and can bang in the paint with the NBA’s best. 

    Vucevic was once thought of as a borderline first-round pick, but now there is speculation that he could go near the end of the lottery.  With so many foreign big men playing like guards, Vucevic’s value has gone up because of his physical style of play, which he displayed in his individual workouts.

2. Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 24:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young Cougars shoots over Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators in the second half during the Southeast regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    During much of the 2010 college basketball season, Jimmer Fredette was the talk of his town. Mainly due to his ability to score in bunches from anywhere on the court.  When he declared for this year’s draft, many scouts focused on the few negative aspects of his game and not the numerous positives. 

    Now that the draft is right around the corner, teams are remembering what Jimmer did over the course of the 2010 season and want him on their teams.  With the possibility of so many guards getting drafted in the lottery, there is speculation that a few teams might try and trade up to grab Fredette. 

    Whichever team selects him knows their getting a tremendous person who is an even better basketball player.

1. Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10:  Klay Thompson #1 of the Washington State Cougars shoots over Darnell Gant #44 of the Washington Huskies in the first half in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on Ma
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Playing three seasons of basketball in Pullman, Washington, Klay Thompson did not get a lot of attention.  Now that the draft is just a few days away, NBA executives definitely have noticed Thompson. 

    He is undoubtedly one of the best shooters in the draft, with range beyond the NBA three-point line.  Thompson is also very long, which will help him when trying to defend the quick guards in the NBA. 

    A couple months ago, Thompson was a late first-round pick, but now he is almost a lock for the lottery.  With his size, shooting ability and high basketball IQ, Thompson should have a long career in the NBA.